Choosing a blogging software can be confusing nowadays due to the many choices available. It pays to spend some effort to select the most suitable platform before your fist blog post. It is often not a straight forward process switching blogging platform down the road if you intend to migrate all your old posts and pictures. The following are some pointers and check list to get you started in making the best choice.
### Type of blogging software
Blogging software can be largely categorized into three groups depending on how it is meant to be used. General purpose blogging software includes the typical products such as Blogger, WordPress, MovableType, TypePad, LiveJournal etc. These are for committed bloggers, blogging for business and for posts that are not mostly expression of 140 or less characters.
You might want to consider micro-blogging if you express mostly in short messages. Micro-blogging or ‘status updates’ in Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed etc is all the rage at the moment. It requires less commitment when writing up a new post, but is not suitable for let say an article debating a certain cause.
In the middle ground are platforms that offer the traditional blogging features but also allow easy, quick and fun posting of short updates, links and media. [Tumblr](http://www.tumblr.com/) and [Posterous](http://posterous.com/) are example of such service.
Starting a blog with the intend of growing viewership is a big commitment. You need a passion for writing and for the topic concerned. On the other end, some has turned their blog into a life journal, posting quick updates and views on life experience for the purpose of updating friends and family or whoever is interested. Asking the question ‘why blog?’ helps to narrow down the selection of your blogging platform.
### Hosted or self hosting
Most blogging platforms are hosted services over the net. You can simply create an account and start blogging right away. [Blogger](http://www.blogger.com/), [Wordpress.com](http://www.wordpress.com/), [TypePad](http://www.typepad.com/), [Vox](http://www.vox.com/) and [Tumblr](http://www.tumblr.com/) are possible services for your consideration. All of these services have similar features and except for TypePad are free to use. WordPress.com is free for the basic features but you need to pay for feature such as CSS customization.
Blog hosted service gets your blog started quickly and you need not worry about the business of website hosting. But if you required complete control and customization of your blog, you might consider running and hosting the blogging software yourself. Running your own blog is more involving and require certain proficiency in computer but not by much. You can engage your webhost or third party vendor to help out.
The free open source software [WordPress](http://www.wordpress.org/) is the most popular blogging software in the market. It has the widest support in terms of plugins and extension, and is simple to run and use. You should not confuse the open source WordPress software with its cousin WordPress.com, which is a hosted service from the same company. [MovableType](http://www.movabletype.com/) is the alternative and is the software used in TypePad.
We encourage you consider self hosting for its flexibility and not for cost alone. Hosting your own WordPress blog might look cheaper but you have to factor in the maintenance of it.
### Branding and ads
Look for features that allow you to customize the blog if want to promote your own branding. Some hosted solution sticks their own logo prominently on top of your blog, you might not want to share your branding with them.
Select hosted blog platform that offers domain redirection if you want your blog to appear in the web address of your choice.
If you intend to run ads in your blog, check the hosted service if this is allowed and how to go about doing it.
### Ways to write
All blogging software offers an admin page for you to compose, edit and publish your posts. You might have a preference of writing your post in your own editor of choice, or in a non-web client or when you are mobile.
Check if the blogging platform supports XML-RPC or Atom publishing protocol so that you can make use of wider range of editor such as [BBEdit](http://www.bbedit.com/products/bbedit/) or [TextMate](http://macromates.com/).
Platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr provides iPhone apps to allow easy posting on the move.
### Traffic monitoring
Getting traffic numbers for your site is important to get a sense of your accomplishment. Look for blogging platform that offers site statistics. If not check if you could integrate the site with external analytics tool such as [Google Analytics](http://www.google.com/analytics/).
### Its about your data
For self-hosted solution, ensure you have proper and regular backup procedures in place. It is advisable to have a copy of your precious posts and media outside of the hosting server.
Do not have complete faith over hosted blogging platforms, disaster does happen. Check if the vendor performs routine backup or if there is any redundancy measures for the data. You can perform your own ‘backup’ by keeping a copy of your posts and media locally on your computer before publishing. The best is if the blogging software provides a way for you to export out your data. You can then use the exported data as your backup.